ROME (Oct. 14)
Pope Paul VI received in the throne room of the Vatican today a delegation of 100 American Jews–the first Jewish group he has met since his accession to the Pontificate–and declared: “We have a common Bible and Common God. Therefore, we pray together so that the Almighty guide, comfort and bless us.”
The delegation was composed of members of a United Jewish Appeal Study Mission which convened here today for a four-day session to hear reports of needs in Jewish communities around the world.
Referring to the purpose that brought the UJA leaders to Rome, Pope Paul said he could not but feel respect and affection for the members of the Mission because of the bonds of brotherhood created by helping people in need. “These bonds,” he stated, “are what we would like to strengthen.” He declared he followed closely the developments among the new nations, and wished to serve as a bridge for bringing understanding among those nations.
Another bond with the Jewish people, said the Pontiff, is “our common affinity for the Old Testament as a source of Divine revelation which I use every day in thought and prayer.” For that reason, he said, he felt he could call on the same God whom both Christians and Jews worship and love, to ask Him for His guidance, His revelations and His blessing.
U.J.A. LEADER RESPONDS; STRESSES JEWISH HOPE ON ECUMENICAL COUNCIL
Rabbi Herbert A. Friedman, executive vice-chairman of the UJA, responding on behalf of the group, told the Pope: “All men the world over are seeking today to find the roots of their brotherhood.” He expressed the hope that the Ecumenical Council now meeting in the Vatican would further the spirit of solidarity between men of all faiths. “We are pleased to note that this feeling of solidarity between men of all faiths is expressed in the proceedings of the Ecumenical Council,” he said. “It is our hope and prayer that throughout the years of your Papacy great and further progress will be made in the everlasting struggle to unite mankind.”
“We are shortly leaving the Eternal City of Rome for the Holy City of Jerusalem,” Rabbi Friedman continued. “As American Jews our hearts beat strongly with pride as we witness the rebuilding of Israel. For many, many centuries, the sons of David have wept by all rivers of all Babylons for their lost Zion. Now in this century we have the divine opportunity to participate in its rebirth.
“Our love for Israel is based on love of people and faith. Jewish people who have been persecuted and harassed in many lands now have the right to a new life in freedom. This we applaud and support as more than one million have already exercised that right.
“The Jewish spirit also has now a new frame within which to flourish so that a model society can be created so that the ancient prophecy of Isaiah can be fulfilled ‘for out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.’ Thus shall Israel fulfill her destiny of being a light unto the nations.”
Rabbi Friedman concluded with the recital of the priestly benediction in Hebrew and English. The UJA delegation received by the Pope was led by Joseph Meyerhoff, of Baltimore, general chairman of the UJA.